While working in a creative field, Mikkel Søgaard, co-founder and CEO of Digital Devotion Games, encountered the tension between art and business, and the uncertainty that comes with the gray areas. As part of the Beyond Beta Accelerator program, the entrepreneur reflected on some of his most surprising challenges and learnings.
Leveling up the playing field
About the current landscape of the gaming industry, Mikkel referenced that the relatively young industry often lacked the business lens and resources of more established industries. “In Denmark in particular, games are viewed more as an art form than a business, so many accelerators or funds are unavailable.” However, without the professionalization of the industry, startups tend to favor building their game over developing their business – which results in growing pains down the road.
Mikkel acknowledges how important it is for startups today to break old habits to succeed, “It’s important to remember that we’re not just building a game for ourselves but for an audience that exists.” Gaming is no longer IT hobbyists building games in their garage, but a booming industry that requires a sharp business focus to succeed.
Starting a completely new venture is difficult work with the potential for high reward, but founders don’t need to do it alone. By partnering with business experts, Digital Devotion Games was able to get the tangible tools they needed when it came to finding customers, connecting with publishers, and navigating the legal space. Mikkel notes, “In the gaming industry, it’s difficult to get mentors for the business side, but Beyond Beta had everything – the knowledge and the experts – I needed.”
To address their own knowledge gaps, Mikkel advocates for gaming startups to seek mentors and for incubators and accelerators to offer more tools and resources to startups for navigating the business world. He shares that for more startups to succeed, they need to consider building their business competencies and bringing in those who can advance their mission.